Childhood anxiety

We all experience anxiety in some form. Indeed, anxiety can serve a useful purpose when we are facing a stressful anxiety picsituation as it is part of the body’s way of triggering a ‘flight or fight’ response through the release of adrenaline. Feelings of anxiety are also a normal part of growing up as children navigate their way through new challenges and gain independence. However, some children are faced with higher levels of anxiety for a range of reasons, and it falls to us as parents and carers to support them through these challenges.
 
What does anxiety feel like?
According to www.youngminds.org.uk, anxiety causes a number of reactions in the body, which can feel very unpleasant: They include:
 
▪   Feeling shaky, feeling sick or having stomach cramps, or feeling dizzy or faint.
▪   Breathing fast or finding it hard to breathe,
▪   Heart palpitations, sweating, tense muscles
▪   Feeling like you might die.
 
How do these feelings impact on children?
These reactions can, in turn, affect the behaviour and thoughts of a child suffering from anxiety. For example:
 
▪   Feeling scared, panicky, embarrassed or ashamed a lot of the time.
▪   Not having the confidence to try new things, face challenges or even carry on as normal
▪   Finding it hard to concentrate, or having problems with sleeping or eating.
▪   Having angry outbursts where the person gets very angry very quickly and feels ‘out of control’.
▪   Worries or negative thoughts going round and round the person’s head, or thinking that bad things are going to happen all the time.
▪   Feeling that they have to do or say certain things, or bad things will happen.
 
These are, of course, only some of the ways that anxiety can manifest itself in young people. The main point to consider is whether anxiety is having a negative impact on a child’s quality of life. There are numerous sources of help and support that parents and carers can access such as:
www.nopanic.org.uk (includes youth telephone helpline)